A little over a year ago I published this post, and as I read it today it still resonates with me. When I first shared this piece I received tons of feedback regarding self-publishing being an option. While this is true, I think many people still want to consider the traditional route, but as self-publishing continues to gain steam it’s a much more definitive option now than it was even a year ago.
No matter the choice, every writer still ponders this question and how they want their stories revealed to the world. The amazing thing about publishing is there are many choices available and it’s up to the writer to decide which path is best for them. So perhaps the question now is not “What if I never get published?” but “How will I be published?”
Originally posted August 1, 2014
On this blog I’ve been fortunate enough to do a lot of interviews. Some with literary agents, and even more with writers. When I interview writers, I always try to mix up their questions. Include things that make each interview personal. While the questions may vary, there are always two I include. I ask about their time in the query trenches and if they ever thought about giving up on their writing dream.
One interview I did recently with Ava Jae stands out clearly in my mind. I asked her about getting discouraged, and giving up, and her powerful response has stayed with me ever since. Here it is:
“The thought had occurred to me that I may never get published, and that was something I had to come to terms with. It wasn’t easy, but once I accepted that it was a real possibility, and I was actually okay with it, I was so much happier going forward.”
When I first read her reply, I was stunned. I’d never thought about the possibility of not being published. Now, let me step back. I have been published (short stories, flash fiction etc.), but I’ve not been lucky enough to have a full length novel published (yet), and for me that is the total dream.
Over the past months, I’ve had time to think about why Ava Jae’s reply stayed with me. And it comes down to this: Would I be okay with spending hours toiling over a manuscript with the knowledge that it may never see the light of day?
To be honest, for weeks after I published the interview this question haunted me. Here’s why: I love creating new worlds and breathing life into characters. When I write, I see each scene vividly in my head, and I do my best to bring that to the page. Like most writers I’d guess, when I’m in the throes of a fresh new story, I eat, drink, and breathe these characters and hope I’m doing them justice. I’m not a fast-drafter. I have to really think through each scene and then go back and edit before moving forward. This means it takes me a long time to actually finish the story.
My most recent novel took five months to research and another eight months to write, even before edits. I’m not going to lie, this manuscript has completely drained me – but in a good way. I’ve put my heart and soul into the story and feel like these characters need to be put into the capable hands of readers. But the question still remains, what if that never happens? Am I okay with shelving this manuscript and starting something new? If you had asked me this when I first published Ava Jae’s interview, I would have said, “no.” But in recent weeks, I’ve come to this realization: as a writer, I don’t see I have another choice. The plot bunnies continue to pop into my head, and I write them down in a notebook, hoping I’ll get to them one day. While I don’t know what my emotional state will be if, in fact, this current manuscript doesn’t find a home, I do know one thing for certain, I’ll keep writing. I may need to take some time away to lick my wounds, but I’ll always end up back at the keyboard, because that’s what I do – create.
What about you? Do you continue to write even though it’s a possibility your manuscript may never be published? Is the creativity within you enough to fuel your work and keep you satisfied? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.